Are there “past gifts”?
In theology and the study of the Bible there is an ongoing argument as to whether there are gifts of the Holy Spirit which are no longer in use or have ceased. Those who believe that there are gifts that have ceased are known as ceasationalist and they are usually dispensationalist. In the list of gifts that I cited, the last 10 of these are usually considered to be past gifts, of course there is disagreement on that as well. The most well known or common of these gifts is that of speaking in tongues, doing miracles, healing and prophecy. There are basically three reasons why we would think that certain gifts have passed away. The first of these is found in I Corinthians 13:8 “Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they shall cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away.” All three of the words fail, cease and vanish are of a tense that indicates a gradual fading away. This poses the question of why would certain gifts of the Spirit gradually fade away? The answer is simply because they have been replaced by the completed Word of God, or as we read in the same chapter, “But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away.” Secondly, we see in the book of Acts and in the Epistles that is exactly what happened. In the Acts, there were fewer and fewer instances of miracles etc. as we proceed through the book, there are only 3 instances of speaking in tongues and each one had to do with a Jewish audience. The epistles of the last days make no mention of the past gifts but rather emphasizes our lives of holiness, love and the truth. Thirdly, our Lord stated specifically that it is “An evil and adulterous nation” that seeks after a sign (Matthew 12:40), signs are given for unbelieving Israel. The Church is a chaste bride in contrast to an evil and adulterous nation and is not in need of signs. By faith in the Lord Jesus we become a Christian and by faith, not by sight, we grow and mature in Him.
Have questions about the Bible? Send them to Dr. Greg Koehn at firstname.lastname@example.org and read the answer here in this article.